Norman Rockwell Museum - Amazing Original Art

Touring the Norman Rockwell Museum on Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Now that I have returned from my Appalachian Trail adventure trip, I want to take the time to publish this blog post about my visit to the Norman Rockwell Museum one month ago on Tuesday, September 26, 2023.

Humorous Four Sporting Boys Norman Rockwell prints that my mom framed for my room as a child

I had grown up with some humorous "Four Sporting Boys" Norman Rockwell prints that my mom framed for my room as a child, and which, as an adult, I put in my sons' room. I also was active in Scouting, and thus saw almost all of the Normal Rockwell "Boy Scouts" prints. They were displayed at the church where my troop had its meetings. The first time I visited the Norman Rockwell Museum, I thought I knew Norman Rockwell's artwork, but as I wrote in my thru-hike journal, seeing this original artwork was nothing less than amazing!!

However, I want to be clear that, as I learned on my first visit and confirmed on subsequent vists, while you may feel you know Norman Rockwell's work, it is not the same as seeing the original artwork. Look at the brush strokes -- get close and look at the texture -- take a museum guided tour to learn the story behind what you are seeing. Visit the Norman Rockwell Museum in person!

Every time I have visited the Norman Rockwell Museum, I have learned and seen something new. I hope this blog post encourages you to visit the museum if you are ever in Massachusetts. I look forward to visiting the museum again -- maybe even next year as I hike from Massachusetts into Vermont and beyond, as I continue north on the Appalachian Trail.

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Summer Vacation 2023: South Haven, Michigan and Merry-Go-Round Museum

Summer Vacation 2023: South Haven, Michigan and Merry-Go-Round Museum

We wanted to share our summer vacation with you, so we created this blog post to capture our experiences in and around South Haven, Michigan, and at the Merry-Go-Round Museum in Sandusky, Ohio. Originally, we had planned a trip to Alaska for August 2023 that we decided to cancel due to the uncertainty about Stuart's recovery following his surgery. We thought it was best to make our 2023 vacation within a day's drive from our home. South Haven is just over four and a half hours from Cleveland.

We organized this blog post around Stuart's photos and videos about different parts of our vacation:

Monday, July 31, 2023 - Monday, August 7, 2023, Michigan Vacation

Monday/Tuesday, August 7 - 8, 2023 - Exploring Sandusky & Huron, Ohio

We hope you enjoy learning about our vacation!

We were very grateful to be able to go on this wonderful vacation after the events that occurred earlier this year.

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After Backpacking Adventure: Exploring Appalachian Trail Highlights & New York Water Destinations

After Backpacking Adventure: Exploring Appalachian Trail Highlights & New York Water Destinations

This blog post focuses on the interesting places we visited together along the route of the Appalachian Trail after Stuart's backpacking adventure, and then visiting water-related locations in New York state on our way home. After many years of hearing from Stuart about the places we visited along the Appalachian Trail, it was really fun for Julie to finally see them! 

Exploring Appalachian Trail Highlights

While Stuart was backpacking on the Appalachian Trail, he wrote down places he wanted to show Julie after his hike. It is his way of involving her in his multi-year journey north up the trail.

Many of the best locations are not accessible due to difficult terrain or the number of miles from trailheads, so this blog post shows just a few of the places we had the ability and time to visit.

New York Water Destinations

After touring locations along the Appalachian Trail, we spent the weekend traveling through the state of New York, where we visited the Erie Canal and Niagara Falls.

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Before Backpacking Adventure: Hershey’s Chocolate World & Knoebels Amusement Resort

Friday, April 30, 2021 - Hershey’s Chocolate World! Saturday, May 1, 2021 - Julie rides the Grand Carousel at Knoebels Amusement Resort

Friday, April 30, 2021 - Hershey’s Chocolate World!

This was our first big outing since receiving our COVID-19 vaccinations. The three attractions that we went to were adapted to encourage social distancing, but this was still the first time being around so many people in an inside venue. It actually felt kind of strange. Everyone was required to wear masks in all areas of the Hershey’s Chocolate World building.

It was very appropriate that we started our journey toward Stuart's starting point on the Appalachian Trail at this "sweet" place, since he has often visited Hershey’s Chocolate World as part of his many previous backpacking trips on the A.T. in Pennsylvania. A chocolate treat goes perfectly with backpacking.

Saturday, May 1, 2021 - Knoebels Amusement Resort

Since Julie and our son, Kevin F. Smith, are on the Board of Euclid Beach Park Now, we knew we had to visit Knoebels Amusement Resort. Similar to Cleveland's Euclid Beach Park, which closed in 1969, Knoebels is a free-admission amusement park. While it is free to enter the park, visitors can purchase individual ride tickets or an all-day wristband. Also, since Julie volunteers as a ride attendant at the restored Euclid Beach Park Grand Carousel at the Cleveland History Center, it was a special treat to see the Knoebels Carousel Museum.

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Rockin' Hocking Hills

Julie "rockin' it" in Old Man's Cave at Hocking Hills State Park!

Located in southeastern Ohio, Hocking Hills State Park has received national and international acclaim as a top park to visit. Stunning in every season, the park features towering cliffs, waterfalls, and deep, hemlock-shaded gorges for hikers and nature lovers to enjoy.

We had not been to Hocking Hills State Park In many years, and decided it would make a great getaway location while we are still social distancing. Most of this past year, we have been exploring many northeast Ohio parks and thought that it was time to go to southeastern Ohio.

We remembered the park's unique rock formations from past visits, but we discovered that they were even more incredible than we remembered. We were surprised to learn from informational signage in the park that glaciers never reached this part of Ohio, since we are used to northeast Ohio terrain that has been shaped by the ice age.

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From Waterfalls to Wilderness Workshops

From Waterfalls to Wilderness Workshops

Weekend Journey: New York & Massachusetts Parks, and Appalachian Long Distance Hikers Association (ALDHA) Gathering

Every year, we go to the Appalachian Long Distance Hikers Association - ALDHA Gathering weekend for workshops on how to backpack the great trails around the world. Normally, we make it a four-day weekend (including traveling), but this year we added some extra days on each end of the trip. These extra days enabled us to see some great New York State Parks with beautiful waterfalls, and more of the park where the Appalachian Trail crosses the highest mountain in Massachusetts.

It was fun to "bookend" our trip to the Appalachian Long Distance Hikers Association - ALDHA Gathering with waterfalls. We write our blog posts to share what we learn about organizations and about places that we enjoy. We hope you will share them with others.

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Family Train Day: Touring the Warther Museum and Dennison Depot Museum

Mike, Kevin and Julie viewing Frieda Warther's Button Collection

On March 7, 2019, we decided to plan a family day. We first thought of places we had enjoyed in the past, but decided what we really wanted was a day together exploring places we had never visited as a family. Luckily, we remembered seeing a sign for The Warther Museum as we drove down Interstate 77. Every time we drove past the sign, we would say that we needed to find a time to visit The Warther Museum. Julie had great memories of visting The Warther Museum when she was a Girl Scout, and had been telling us for years that we needed to go there someday. She knew we would enjoy seeing the carvings, which included very detailed models of trains.

As we explored Google Maps for other places to visit in Ohio's Tuscarawas County, we decided to make trains the theme for the day, and go to the Dennison Railroad Depot Museum.

We made our plan to visit these two Ohio museums which are located in the City of Dover and the Village of Dennison -- just about an hour and a half south of Cleveland.

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Michigan Journey: Mackinaw -> Mackinac -> Frankenmuth

Dessert Time! Anniversary Cake at Frankenmuth Bavarian Inn!

Due to commitments at home, this is the first vacation in quite a while where we both were free to take a week-long trip. Because of this, we decided to write this blog post about the different locations we visited in Michigan from June 24 through July 1, 2018. We are sharing our 100 @sos_jr tweets and retweets to show our activities and our photos.

While not a perfect trip, in that we ended up needing to cut it short by two days, we created this post so we can look back on it to remind us of the fun we had and to share it with visitors to our blog.

Happy traveling!

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